The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least time and one-half for all time worked in excess of forty hours in a week. An employer that knows or should have known that an employee worked overtime while off the clock may be subject to lawsuits by employees and/or investigations by Iowa Workforce Development or the Department of Labor. While management has the right to insist that overtime hours be approved in advance, workers also have the right to be paid for all overtime worked, even if that overtime was not preapproved.
Supervisors should be instructed to approve timecards that include overtime, even if such overtime was not preapproved. Employees should be informed that even if they did not secure approval prior to working the overtime, it must be reported. Employers may make the failure to pursue or obtain preapproval a disciplinary matter; however withholding the overtime compensation is an unlawful form of discipline. It is important that your overtime policy reflect this information.